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Pineapple Tops Take too Long to Compost – I think I’ll Plant Them!

14 Mar

Pineapple Tops Take too Long to Compost – I think I’ll Plant Them!

I love to garden, and where I’m from, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, I learned all about gardening from my grandma. I would watch her, on hands and knees, digging in the soil that crumbled between her fingers. The frigid days of winter had released their grip, the blanket of snow and muddied ice all but gone. Longer, warmer, sunlit days were doing their part to soften the land. The determined crocuses had already pushed their way through weeks earlier, soft, velvet purple blooms, to impatient to wait for the snow to be gone. Grandma taught me when to plant what. She explained what needed full sunshine to thrive, and what preferred to peek out from a shady corner. When the time was just right, she’d have a load of compost delivered and together we would work it into the waking soil, while she reminded me how much better our garden would grow, if we fed it well.

On Roatan, Honduras, a tropical island in the Caribbean Sea, it’s always summer. At least compared to what I was used to. There is no anxiously waiting for the snow to melt away, no crocuses putting on a show in early spring.

The first year, I marvelled at the beauty of plants, trees and flowers growing in the jungle, and lining the paths to the beach, to the road, to my Roatan home. These were species I had previously only seen in greenhouses or cut-stems of bird-of-paradise, and orchids at the flower shops that I would purchase as a special gift. I had never seen a cashew tree before, or mango, or bananas hanging from a banana palm, hibiscus that blooms all year round, or experienced the heavenly fragrance of the guava fruit.

Year two, I had to try my hand at gardening. I quickly learned to only work outside when the sun hasn’t risen to high yet, or just before it goes down. I learned to cover up, with light breathable clothing (or spend all my time swatting bugs.) And the most amazing thing I learned was if you snip a branch, or stem from—just about any plant that is native to here—stick it in the ground—it will grow!

Year three, I’ve started a composting program in my neighbourhood. As my grandma said, “Feed the soil, and watch the garden grow.” I add fallen leaves between each layer, I turn it, I water it daily, and I can’t believe how quickly a batch is ready. The scent of the dark soft compost is sweet, and citrusy, it crumbles between my fingers as I turn it in a new garden bed, or top up a garden I created last year. I do have a problem though, the pineapple tops, won’t break down as quickly as all the other fruit and vegetable scraps do.

…I know, I’ll just push them in the ground and grow pineapples! I bet it will work as well as planting sticks on Roatan does—my Island Garden Paradise.

This posting can also be read at Honduras Weekly

As always, thoroughly enjoyable… thanks Genny, you give wonderful balance and a breath of fresh air to Honduras Weekly. So much of our news is about poverty, Zelaya, aid, etc. After awhile it all weighs down on you a bit, and so it’s nice to be lifted up with your stories. You’re in… Marco

“Keep writing, you have no idea how much we enjoy it – Regards Marlene”

What an Orange Really Tastes Like.

18 Feb

I’ve always enjoyed fresh fruits and vegetables. When I lived in Canada, I chose the ones without blemishes or bruises. Heaven forbid anything had a moldy spot—those items belonged on the day old shelf. Or better yet, throw them away. I’d buy the prepackaged mini carrots. I’d compare the pineapples. Not sure how to tell if I had picked a good one, I’d spend an extra dollar for one pre-sliced in a plastic container. And I always selected only the orangest of the oranges—perfect color, perfect dimples, always seedless.

Then I moved to Roatan. I anticipated finding the best of the best (as I knew it). Very quickly I had to change my way of thinking. If I was only willing to select what looked like it could be used for a photo-shoot for Delmonte, I might as well start buying canned peas and fruit-cups.

The carrots here are big and gnarly. The melons have spots, the celery is pretty limp, and the oranges, well…they are down-right ugly. Pale yellowy-grey skin, absolutely no dimples, and nary a sticker confirming they are seedless. I wasn’t even sure they were oranges until I saw a street vendor selling them. He had a pile of them stacked high in a cart, and a tool, much like an apple peeler; he used to remove the tough outer layer. I watched people purchase oranges from him for a few Limps (pennies) each.

I bought a couple, took them home, realized I could not peel them; I sliced one open, and flicked out the many seeds. The inside color wasn’t much better than the outside, but it did seem to be quite juicy. I sliced it again, and prepared a wedge to pop into my mouth. Removal of more seeds, and I gave it a try. The flavor was unlike any orange I had ever tasted before. It was the sweetest, most delectable orange I ever had the pleasure to eat.

THIS is how an orange should taste.

So if ever you come to Roatan, Honduras, try not to turn your nose up at the ugly oranges, give one a try—you will be pleasantly surprised.  The carrots, pineapples and melons are pretty awesome too! And the limp celery—just soak it in some cold water.

This story is also posted at Honduras Weekly What an Orange Really Tastes Like

Where the Heck is Roatan?

29 Dec

Where the Heck is Roatan?

Where the Heck is Roatan?

Answer – Between Utila and Guanaja.

At least that is what the very popular tourist t-shirt has printed on it.

Without making you feel like you are back in grade school geography class, (I would get pretty glassy-eyed in that class). I will keep the explanation simple.

Roatan is a small island off the coast of Honduras, in the Caribbean Sea. On one side is the even smaller island of Utila, and the other side is the island of Guanaja (hence the t-shirt). All three islands are part of the chain of islands known as the Bay Islands.

Roatan is surrounded by the second biggest barrier reef (Australia is first). The beaches are soft white sand. The foliage is lush and tropical, (yes, bananas and coconuts grow here), starting from the beaches rising toward a central ridge of foothill’s. I don’t think they qualifies as mountains—okay, so not boring you with geography isn’t my only reason for keeping the details simple.

When I stand on our dock looking to the North, a few hundred miles away (I think) is the border between Belize and Mexico. To the West (when watching the fabulous sunsets) I am facing Guatemala. South is mainland Honduras, and to the East is the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. I should mention that Honduras (which Roatan is part of) is in Central America, between Mexico and South America. I’m not trying to be condescending; before I came here I didn’t know exactly where Central America was, let alone Honduras.

With great pleasure, I could tell you so much more about Roatan; the ocean, teaming with coral and marine life, the jungle landscapes, the glorious year round tropical climate, the diverse cultural mix, tourist attractions, etc. etc. etc. But there are many sites offering much better information on these kinds of details.

What I have to share is a firsthand account of living here. And through that I believe you will come to love it as much as those of us who have chosen to call it home. Roatan is a hidden gem worthy of exploring. But be warned: Once the Roatan Vortex pulls you in…You will never want to leave.

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